Category Archives: Book-Related News

The Cybils Finalists Have Arrived!

…which means it is time for me to get to work!

I’ll be serving as a judge in the YA Fiction category and checking out these titles:

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

So, yeah. Wish me and my fellow judges luck (and check out their blogs)! Or go see what else has made it through the tough first stage in the other Cybils categories! There are some pretty awesome titles to be found, I assure you.

Oh, and.

Happy 2014, everyone. Here’s to magic happening this year!

~k

The Creativity Problem

Hello, Internet world!

After a near 3-month absence, I have returned.

Now, I’ve had some pretty long stretches from the blog before. But this barren time-period was a bit different. Normally, when I disappear from The Re-Shelf it’s because life has made posting regular reviews [and by regular, I mean my version of regular] fall lower on the priorities list. And I’ve always been fine by that. One of the reasons I love blogging is because I can do it as frequently as I want/can.

This break was different. It wasn’t a time thing, per se [that’s what dictionary.com told me the spelling of that word is. I’m not sure I believe it.], but a complete lack of knowing what to actually post. For awhile I contemplated dropping the thing altogether. Which immediately made me start thinking about why I was thinking about stopping the blog thing. I like doing it. What brought this on?

I’ve decided – for me – it’s a two-pronged creativity problem.

If you’ve somehow stumbled upon this tiny corner of the ‘Net, there is a pretty good chance you like books. [Or you just want homework answers. One or the other.] And if you like books, and you’re looking at a book blog, you probably are familiar with the other book blogs out there. I certainly am. I gobble up book blogs. [I used to gobble up even more when Google Reader was a beautiful thing that still existed. Le sigh.]

As a frequent reader of book blogs, I can assure you there are many, many amazing book blogs out there. Some are very specific, some are very broad; some are critical, some are generalized. I read a variety of these. And I really have struggled to figure out how this blog even matters compared to those blogs. I’ve never shied away from my incredibly informal – and mostly full of praise – reviewing style. [Otherwise, blogging would feel like a job. And then I would stop without a doubt.] But I’ve also never been convinced of the substance of the posts. Or, at the very least, their substance compared to the other blogs out there. They are SO creative. And awesome. And unique! Mostly, I do blog posts because I want to put my thoughts out there. And if someone happened upon them and liked it – great! If not – I only wasted a little bit of time and I had fun doing it. Incidentally, I’m 97% sure I use my blog more as a reference tool (for my poor memory for which book I’ve read and what I thought) for myself than anyone actually views it. But GoodReads and LIbraryThing can fill that role. And how many book reviews of the same book need to exist on the Internet? I haven’t been sure. And I’ve been struggling because I know there will be far better reviews than mine out there.

This isn’t to say I think there isn’t an audience for the random reviews I do – I think reviews are similar to books: there’s always an audience, even if it’s an audience of one – but that doesn’t make it any easier to sit down and try to turn thoughts into words when you’ve read three pretty great posts/reviews of other books and you can’t figure out how to add anything creative in your posts that will be better in any way. To make your posts/reviews stand apart.

The other front of this Creativity Problem was suffering to be over-creative.

I started taking classes in web design this semester. And I love it. It’s super fun. But each assignment took a lot out of me creativity-wise. Adjusting to my new job responsibilities and adapting them to my way of working sapped ever more. At the end of the day, when work and homework was done, I rarely wanted to create content – I just wanted to consume it [which directly adds more to the first point].

Be lazy. Yes. I don’t care who knows. I wanted to be lazy. Watch TV. Movies. Read books. See shows. Engage, but not overly.

The idea of opening WordPress and type things from my own head seemed awful. To form coherent [even half-coherent, in the case of my normal posts] thoughts about something I’d read seemed EXCRUCIATING.

I would get bursts of creativity, but my classes were introducing me to new ideas (video-making! graphic design! animation! tumblr!) that I wanted to try and I really wanted to comment on other topics (tv shows! movies! broadway! cat videos on YouTube). But then I’d feel guilty about not updating the blog with those creativity bursts, so I’d stop the project. And end up with half projects EVERYWHERE. Which can be super discouraging, to be honest.

So, yeah. I wasn’t really sure what to do. Abandoning the blog seemed like a viable option, but it broke my heart. And I just couldn’t do it. But how could I get my groove back [It is taking every inch of self-control not to add a subtitle of “How Kell Got Her Groove Back” to this post now.] and put in the effort I wanted without feeling like I was going to the dentist every time I logged in?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

– Don’t let the fact this is mostly a book review blog stop me from reviewing, talking about or using it for other reasons. [Which, as I think about it, I’m not sure why I’ve been so strict about this. I always operate under the idea the content of this blog will mostly be seen by, like, four people (this makes my atrocious grammar mistakes and run-on sentences easier to swallow), so why have I cared so much about those four imaginary people’s thoughts on posting a movie review? I have a strict imaginary audience apparently.]

– If I’m not feeling it, I’m not feeling it. This isn’t a bad thing. It also doesn’t mean everything is over. I don’t want to feel guilty about this blog. Ever. Nor do I want it to be a chore.

– Use this space to try new things. If I want to do a video review – make a damn video review. Again, I’m not sure why the Audience I’ve Created In My Head is such a taskmaster that I’ve never allowed myself to think more broadly. Or try things. [This is the advice I’ve already taken. Yay for new graphic design skillz. Stay tuned!]

– It’s okay I’m not creating the wheel every time I post something. There are amazing, awesome bloggers out there [and not just of books, clearly], and I’m very lucky to call some of them my friends and colleagues. I want to be inspired by them, not discouraged. And it’s okay if my thoughts aren’t elaborate. Or they aren’t streamlined. Or whatever. This blog is whatever I’ve created this blog to be. For better, worse or weird. [Mostly weird, I feel.]

So, in sum of this incredibly long post, there might be some changes up at The Re-Shelf. But there might not either. I’m going to see what happens. At the moment, I’m looking forward to serving as a judge on the Cybils panels. [Those reviews, I guarantee.] I’m looking forward to putting up my new banner. [!!!] I’m looking forward to writing about musicals and movies. And adding to the Flyleaf series. [Harder than you would think, sadly.] And maybe trying video. [!?!?!][Next semester’s classes are more video oriented. So we’ll see what happens.]

And that’s the plan. Fingers crossed it’s a good one. Or at least a decent one. Or harebrained. I’d totally go for harebrained.

~kell

p.s. As I’m about to hit the publish button, I really, really hope I don’t disappear for, like, a month. That would be typical, huh?

Check, Check, Check 1

Doing a check to see if this app works.

Dear App gods – please don’t erase all of my previous posts like I saw one app reviewer comment say. That would be a very, very sad (albeit, first world) nightmare.

Check 1, 2. Check 1, 2.

Fingers crossed.

Beyond the Buzz!

People of my [very] tiny corner of the Internet!

The lovely Nova Ren Suma, who recently published 17 & Gone, was awesome and let me guest post on her Beyond the Buzz series!

Go check it out and take note of how I have a hard time making decisions! And how fancy I look in the picture at the bottom. [Taken in the Pump Room in Bath. Which is pretty appropriate, for literary reasons.]

Then read all of the other awesome entries in the series and watch your To Read list SOAR.

Happy Tuesday.

~kell

2012 Cybils Finalists

Hello, my lovely friends on the Internets!

It is so, so, sosososososososoosossososoosososso wonderful to finally share with you the 2012 Cybils Finalists!

I am equally excited for everyone to see the books my group (The YA Fiction) selected to move on to the next round and to add allllllll the books from the other groups.

I also have to say, once again, how much fun (and exhausting. but mostly fun.) it was to serve on the panel. The group was utterly delightful and extremely articulate. They made signing off from our No-Holds-Barred-Fight-for-the-Life-of-Your-One-True-Book chat bittersweet. Sad because our little cohort was breaking up, but happy because TIRED. (Although, everyone basically had a list of books they had been WAITING to read for the last three months.)(Mostly, SFF/adult/non-cancer books seemed to be winning out.)(more on that later this week.)

I wish all the judges epic amounts of luck. It is extremely hard to narrow the list down to 5-7, so I can’t image picking just 1. I cannot WAIT to see which book remains supreme at the end of it all!

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday,

~Kell

Cybils 2012 Update 1

Cybils 2012 Logo

Hello, all!

I’ve reached the quarter-century mark in my Cybils reads (aka 25 books) and thought it might be a good time to check-in.

Some fun stats: in the three weeks since nominations have opened (and subsequently closed), 147 eligible titles were nominated in the Young Adult Fiction category (thank you for nominating!). As I mentioned, I’ve read 25, which is about 5 short of where I’d like to be, but overall I’m happy with my pace. (This is starting to sound like one of my old sports reports…) Nine books I read pre-Cybils, so I’ve read 16 in three weeks. I’m hovering somewhere around 7,500 read pages total.

Discussions are starting to gear up as more and more panelists read more and more books. Which, honestly, is one of the best parts of this whole experience.

I had major insomnia last night and I couldn’t help thinking about the Cybils process and what sets it apart from just normal reading and discussion/reviews throughout the year. And I started using this crazy comparison to a museum. (This is the part of the post where things get a bit weird. Feel free to skip down below.)

So, the Cybils process is like walking into an uncurated museum of art. There are a bunch of works of art on the wall with no real guiding theme grouping the art together. As panelists, we get a huge list of books and then we just start reading them. At the moment, I’m reading based solely on what I have access to and when. This means there’s no order of what’s following what, how things will compliment each other, etc.

Which ALSO means books can seem better or worse depending on what you read immediately before or after the book. It can be like having a Pop Art piece next to an Impressionist and the Pop Art looks gaudy or the Impression piece looks pale when put right next to each other. Or you can have a Big, Huge Dynamic piece that’s epic in scale next to a postcard-size portrait that’s rich in details and it can seem nearly impossible on how you compare the two.

But good things also come from this Museum of Random Placement: you start to see odd connections and similarities that you wouldn’t see between things. Like, you read two books and discover a common oddity (i.e. both books have working in a Taco Bell) that you never would have realized if you read one in January and one in December and the books were so different you never would have thought about one regarding the other anyway.

It’s a really weird, interesting and unique way to look at books (and presumably art). And it can be hard comparing the bold with the quiet and the detailed with the grand. And you could read one book and hate it because it’s the sixth Super Sad Book you’ve read in a row and you really, really are just Over Them. And normally, with out Super Sad Books #1-5, you would have loved #6.

This is where the panelists come in – they are reading from the exact same list of public-nominated, eligible titles (aka viewing the same works of Random, Uncurated Art), but reading them, likely, in a different order and with a different perspective (aka the art has been rearranged – still with no theme). So when I look/read something that I have opinions about, they can – like DOCENTS – bring intelligent thoughts to the conversation, which usually, in some way, changes how I think about a book. Or how it was framed (PUN TOTALLY INTENDED) by the books I read before it. Etc. Etc. Etc. And while you can get this from reviews, to have a back and forth about the books (ENGAGEMENT), it’s easier to step away from the things that are preventing you from judging a book independently from the others.

To sum up this incredibly lengthy and wandering simile: Serving as a panelist on Cybils is like going into a Museum of Random and In No Order Paintings, trying to compare works of art even though they are vastly different and not always in a pleasing order that will benefit all pieces and you are forced to rely on your fellow docents (aka panelists) to help you make sense of the chaos. Amazing, awesome chaos. But chaos, nonetheless.

So, basically, (and this is where you want to join back in People Who Understandably Skipped That Craziness Above) Cybils are going well. I probably email my fellow panelists far too often. And use too many exclamation marks. And run-on sentences. And fragments.

But, in general, good. And we’ve only just started!*

Hope all is well, fellow readers (and homework helper seekers). Read something wonderful today.**

~kell

*meaning there are only MOAR exclamation marks to come!!!!!!!I!I!I!II!I!I!I!I!I

**That was totally cheesy. But, as with the exclamation marks, also how I roll.

Cybils 2012

Cybils 2012 Logo

Sorry this is 1.5 days late but I have been nursing a heck uva cold this week. (It even made me doubt myself when a Harry Potter question came up at trivia last night. I KNOW.)

But a stuffy nose and cloud of exhaustion will not stop me from being REALLY, REALLY excited about serving on The Cybils YA Fiction panel again this year. I’ll be kicking things off in Round 1 with Jackie (our guiding force and Interim Overlord of Cybils), Leila, Sarah, William, Clementine, Kendall and Kirstin. I can’t wait for the tons of emails to start rolling in discussing books, more books and food. (I think the break down for that is 40/40/20.)

Obviously, YA Fiction isn’t the only category, so make sure to go check out the Cybils page for more info about All The Books and MOST IMPORTANTLY put Oct 1st in your calendar – book noms start at midnight! (I totally have my noms picked out!)

Have a lovely day all!
~kell